Homeostasis is needed to ensure that the body and mind function correctly. This means that there should be a balanced and harmonious environment guaranteeing that all bodily systems are working in proper coordination. One body system that shows some relationship with the mental health condition is the endocrine system. The endocrine system is comprised of several glands and organs that are responsible for the production, regulation, and control of certain hormones and brain chemicals. If there are some alterations in this functioning, it can result in medical conditions and at times mimic some mental illnesses.
The most common endocrine condition that is associated with psychological problems is related to disorders of the thyroid gland. Located in the anterior portion of the neck, this gland is responsible for metabolism, digestive and heart functions, control of muscles, development of the brain and bone maintenance
Hyper or Hypo
The hormones that the thyroid gland secretes and regulate are responsible for the correct balance in maintaining heart rate, metabolic rate, digestion, and nervous system functioning. If there will be an increase or decrease the supply of these hormones, then medical and psychological problems can happen.
An increase in thyroid hormones characterizes hyperthyroidism. A person with hyperthyroidism will have the following clinical manifestations:
- Heightened sensation and awareness
- Manic and depressive states
- Intolerance to heat
- Increased vital signs like heart rate, respiration, and body temperature
Hypothyroidism is the inadequate or decreased production of thyroid hormones. Often, this condition is diagnosed late because the symptoms develop slowly and the person may not detect that they are already having some clinical problems. In this condition, everything is in the slow-motion process. The individual may present the following behaviors:
- Slow comprehension
- Decreased mental functioning
- Memory retention problems
- Melancholia and having paranoid thoughts
What To Do
The only way to detect if you have thyroid problems is thru blood works to compare the levels of the thyroid hormones. With regards to the mental health issues, the general practitioner will refer the person to a psychiatrist to further evaluate the behavior and mood and impact of the physiological changes to the daily activities.
In the medical aspect, the person will be given synthetic hormones to augment thyroid hormones in the case of hypothyroidism. If the case is hyperthyroidism, surgical removal of the thyroid gland is the best option then will be followed by medications to represent the adequate supply of thyroid hormones in the absence of the thyroid gland. Medications are to be taken in a lifetime.
If the person presents behavioral problems, a psychiatrist can help to give medications to alleviate panic and anxiety symptoms. Also, since the medical problem can bring some physical changes such as weight loss or obesity, eye problems (protrusion of eyeballs in hyperthyroidism), and hair loss, self-esteem issues can be a significant concern. The person is expected to express their feelings to the mental health professional that is assisting them so that proper counseling is in place.
The overall outlook for thyroid ailments is good. Psychological problems may take some time to manage, however, the prognosis is promising. Contact your doctor immediately if you feel that you have these types of medical illness so that early intervention and prompt recovery is assured.